If you haven’t yet read the recent Opinion Article on Huffington Post, The Military Uniform: From Privilege to Prop, read that article before reading this response.
Mad? Frustrated? Maybe you even think he’s right? Unfortunately none of that matters. The people that he is writing about make up 1% of our nation. So let’s be clear, for those of us who are veterans, we probably feel like it’s an every day occurrence to run into another veteran or to know veterans. However, the reality is, for the vast majority of Americans, the only veteran that they will ever know is either on screen or in print. So while in the safe confines of our local VFW posts or amongst fellow veteran friends we can bemoan some of what we see in our military and veteran community, when we open the curtain and start to openly blast our community for the faults of a few we do so at our own peril.
“For today's troops, finding ways to cash in on the uniform isn't just a job, it's an adventure.” ~ Mark Carpowich
No you read that right. If you’re like me and you served after 9/11, Mark is talking about us. From receiving free WWE tickets,
Seriously, he should be against anybody even going to a WWE event.
to not having to pay baggage fees when flying on behalf of the military, Mark believes that service members and veterans are “reap(ing) self serving benefits, that go against the modest, humble and team oriented spirit of the military.”
Obviously Mark has never heard “If you ain’t Cav, you ain’t shit.” But then again, maybe that’s what he considers to be modest and humble.
Unfortunately once the curtain is pulled back, you can’t deny that there are some skeletons in the wings. The truth is that there are veterans and service members who deliberately take advantage of their statuses to get what they want, and by doing so they are hurting in a small way society. But to believe that this is a grand scheme being played out by “today’s troops” is at best hyperbolic and at worst disingenuous.
Seriously, do you think Huffington Post would have posted an article stating that a small minority of veterans and service members are abusing their statuses?
Also, how is it that a liberal media outlet is complaining that a small minority is taking advantage of programs and the kindness of the American people? Would they have run this, if the article stated that Hispanics or Blacks saw the gaining of cash and benefits that they didn’t earn as “not just a job, but as an adventure.”
And yet, this article has nothing really to do with the wearing of a uniform. That’s a simple regulation that has changed over time. Wearing a uniform was once readily allowed and even mandatory in public, and was only recently changed because of the anger directed at military members during Vietnam. Rather than being an article directed at the abuse of a uniform, this is an article that blasts service members, veterans, and even America for the ideals, gratitude, and dedication that service to this country in a time of war engenders.
“The disrespect of the uniform is egregious enough when our troops are the ones doing it, but the fact that it has gone unchecked for so long has allowed profit-minded civilians to see the commercial value of denigrating it and other iconic images of our nation.” ~ Mark Carpowich
Recently I went to a Washington Nationals game for free. The Lerners, the owners of the Nationals, are big supporters of service members and veterans. Now when I tell you that they put us up in style, I mean it. We sat right behind home base, had access to free food and drinks, and even got a free Nationals baseball cap. Besides enjoying the game and rooting for the Nationals, all that the Nationals asked of us was to stand up and wave our hats during a special time in the game when they recognized those who have served our country. Now I admit, that as a veteran, I sometimes feel that these salutes, recognitions, whatever you want to call them are more for self-gratification for those who didn’t serve than for those who did serve.
It’s like hashtag advocacy. It makes people feel better about themselves because they feel that they are part of the solution, when in reality all they did was take a picture and nothing has changed.
However, my perception of this recognition doesn’t mean that that’s why veterans and service members are being recognized by America. It could be for many reasons; those who spat on soldiers during the Vietnam War are ashamed of their actions and are trying to make up for it, Vietnam Veterans who are now in positions of power are ensuring that my generation of veterans and service members do not experience what they experienced, or it could be simply that at some level we believe that America is still at risk from terrorism and that these men and women who have served and who are serving are the only ones standing in between the country and communities that we love and the terrorists.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to understand why any veteran would lash out at his or her community so publically and without regard for a factual and fair representation of what veterans and service members are doing because of their service to our country. It’s not that our community doesn’t have any bad apples, it’s the fact that there are so few apples in our country that painting with such a broad brush makes America believe that all apples are bad.
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